FishHawk residents Spencer Caceres and Kenya Smith will start Basic Cadet Training at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado this month.

Two recent Newsome High School graduates have an exciting opportunity thanks to their hard work and determination. FishHawk residents Spencer Caceres and Kenya Smith are headed to Basic Cadet Training at the United States Air Force Academy this month after receiving two of just over 1,000 very coveted spots at the school with the goal of becoming offers in the United States Air Force.

“The application process to get into the Air Force Academy is very rigorous,” said Smith, whose father served in the US Army for 20 years. “It requires that you pass a fitness assessment, be medically qualified, be involved in your school and community, obtain teacher and government recommendations and, most of all, show academic excellence.”

In addition, in order to be considered for a position at the Air Force Academy, which is located in Colorado, students need nominations from a state senator, congressmen or the president or vice president.

According to Caceres, who received his recommendation from Congressman Vern Buchanan, the physical test included push-ups, sit-ups, a one-mile run, pull-ups and a basketball throw.

“It was a lot of hard work,” said Smith, who plans to attend medical school after graduating from the Academy and then serve as a flight surgeon or radiologist. “I started focusing on getting accepted when I was a freshman in high school. I encourage anyone who is interested in attending a service academy to start now.”

On Thursday, June 27, the students will begin Basic Cadet Training, where they will learn to transition from civilians to soldiers.

“They don’t actually become fourth year cadets, what are considered freshman at other colleges, until Acceptance Day after basic training ends,” said Michelle Caceres, Spencer’s mother.

The students make an eight-year commitment to serve as officers and in exchange receive full tuition, cost-free room and board, cost-free medical care and a monthly stipend.

“I am extremely grateful for this opportunity that has been given to me and will not take it lightly,” said Spencer, who is planning to leave the Academy after two years for a service mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He will then reapply to the Academy and hopes to continue his education and a career in the Air Force. To learn more about the Academy, visit www.usafa.edu.